“Considered by many to be one of the best cheap electric guitars of all time”: In praise of the Danelectro Shorthorn, the primitive budget guitar loved by Jimmy Page, Tom Verlaine and Eric Clapton

Jimmy Page onstage with Led Zeppelin playing a Danelectro Shorthorn
(Image credit: Art Zelin/Getty Images)

Danelectro’s U-Series guitars of the ’50s and Shorthorn models of the late ’50s and ’60s are textbook examples of modern minimalist guitar design. 

Manufactured to be sold to the masses at the lowest prices possible (Danelectros typically sold for about $40 in the late ’50s, while a Fender Telecaster’s list price was about $200), they were built using low-cost materials and almost primitive construction that a high school student could duplicate in shop class, but they still managed to deliver excellent playability, compelling tones and cool looks.

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Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.